It’s comfortable to define ourselves by roles, relationships, and resources. It’s human nature to draw boundary lines around our abilities and find labels to attach to what we are. These labels seem to provide identity and a certain measure of direction. When we define ourselves, we have a good idea of where we are going. Deciding what we are and what we are not, provides a feeling of control in life. It gives us a clear path to follow, a goal to accomplish, and a destination to land on. That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing until we recognize it as bait.
The expectation to fill a certain definition of what and who are profoundly limits our potential to grow. And that’s the tragedy. Believing we need to remain within the confines of what we currently see for ourselves robs us of the ability to expand. The assumption that we know what we can do and have in life blocks our awareness that something better, something more, is actually achievable. What if our potential surpasses our imagined function? Is it possible to have a purpose beyond what we can articulate today? If it is, then we must be open to radical transformation.
This kind of transformation is only going to happen when we eagerly embrace it. It does not occur in closed minded people or in those who lock themselves into one level of expression. You and I need to recognize and resist the temptation to limit ourselves to a stifled understanding of who we are in the various facets of life. New experiences, connections, efforts, and learning continuously offer us the opportunity to step into different places. Open minded people take advantage of this and grow in exponential ways.
The truth is, the trajectory of life we perceive today doesn’t necessarily predict how we could shift and change later. One of the most beautiful things about life is that it gifts us the freedom to end at a remarkable distance from where we began. Historian and philosopher Michel Foucault is noted for observing that, “The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning”. I have to agree. The call to fulfill our potential and to intentionally transform ourselves proves to be a weighty contribution for an individual life to make.
Each of us could resist the urge to limit ourselves, but not everyone will. The reality is, many people whom you and I know will choose not to improve themselves in any significant or meaningful way. Some will actually fight it off; they will spend their lives determined to remain
dormant and exactly where they are in mindset and in contribution. Others passively watch circumstances move. They mistakenly suppose they have made some progress because the situation changed. The setting is different, but they are essentially the same. Both groups of people define themselves narrowly, and neither are comfortable with the unexpected. Sure, they want life to be better, but they have no intention of tapping into their own potential to make that happen.
Yet, there are certain people who do and will intentionally transform what they are. The courageous require themselves to remain open to possibility, and they seek out ways to stretch and enlarge their lives. They are not content to remain the same person they’ve been, and despite the pressure to do so, they don’t feel the need to play a part in order to fit a certain box. These people possess a spirit that doesn’t demand the certainty of knowing where the finish line is because they aren’t pacing themselves towards any predetermined marker. The route may change. Paths may open and close down many times, and to this type of person, that’s okay.
When we are able to resist the bait to confine ourselves to specific routes, labels, and definitions, we will be free to fulfill our potential to its fullest extent. This is the essence of what Michel Foucaul expressed, and it makes sense. Today, you and I have the opportunity to decide if we are going to live within boundaries or beyond them. I say, let’s be courageous enough to take new territory. Let’s allow ourselves to finish in a place markedly different from where we began.